A couple of commenters have raised questions about progressiveness in country music. Today, I want to suggest that there are progressive voices, at least in Americana, roots, and alt country music, but those voices are limited. They are almost always white, and usually populist and male. There are a few women in country who arguably identify as feminists. None of these artists are evangelical Christians like some major label country musicians, but faith imagery permeates much of their songwriting. It is often used in visions of a Utopian future, or it takes on a perverse meaning.
Last week, I wrote about apocalyptic themes and imagery in contemporary music. In closing out that discussion (at least for now), I use PJ Harvey's February LP, Let England Shake*, as a jumping off point to think about about war as apocalypse. In the album, we encounter a crumbling empire beset by militarism.
Here is the music video for "This Glorious Land" (lyrics here). It's about declining British empire:
Activist, poet, mother, writer, Jewish woman, pacifist—it's hard to pick what defined Grace Paley. Born in the Bronx in 1922, Paley went on to publish award winning works of poetry and fiction, to be an active member of both the anti-war and women's movement, to teach writing at Sarah Lawrence, and used her poetry as a weapon well into her eighties. Here are just some reasons why Grace Paley was a badass...